Is it just me or does it seem like some aspects of asset management software are still stuck in the ‘90s? One area in particular that seems like it was designed by someone that’s probably retired and learning to surf on a Pacific island beach by now is barcode scanning. I hear about people all time using antiquated bar code scanning devices and software that were built for people with large biceps and a lot of spare time and patience. Let’s modernize this part of asset management! Let’s say no to bulky, specialty, expensive bar code scanners, and Windows Mobile 6.5/CE.
Today, people use bar code scanners in several asset management scenarios. To name the most common scenarios:
• Receiving assets
• Swapping assets
• Inventory audit
• Viewing information about a particular asset
• Updating properties of an asset such as location, custodian, cost center, etc.
Oftentimes, the way a barcode scanner is used in these scenarios is usually one of two ways:
• Connected via USB to a network-connected device such as a laptop. This isn’t so bad if you like being tethered to a laptop while trying to scan that desktop PC under the desk. Hint: get a long USB cable for optimum usability. 🙂 Maybe you can get a belly harness for the laptop so it is easier to carry around. Shop for one here on eBay. Now really, it’s 2014. There’s got to be a better way!
• A barcode scanner with a built in OS is attached to a PC via USB. A data file is downloaded to the device. The user scans some items and changes some things which changes the underlying data file. Then the device is connected to the PC again. The data file is copied to the PC. Then it is copied to a server. Then it is uploaded into a staging table. Then a process is initiated which syncs the data into the main database trying to reconcile the differences in data. Come on! We can do better than that!
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that there has to be a better way to do this in 2014. I scan bar codes all the time at the store to compare prices using an app like Red Laser. I scan QR codes to get more information about a product. All it takes is a smartphone with a decent camera, an internet connection, and some web services on a server somewhere in the cloud. You can probably see where I am going with this!
You guessed it! Cireson is already in development on creating a smartphone application for asset management starting with the barcode scanning scenarios outlined above. You’ll be able to install it from the app stores of the various mobile platforms just like any other app. You’ll be able to use a simple user experience to look up and update asset information in Service Manager via Cireson’s web services. These web services are being built as part of our upcoming analyst portal and self-service portal. If you are already planning to deploy those products, the web services will already be in place. The web services can be installed on an internet-facing web server or on the intranet and can be accessed using HTTP or HTTPS for better security. To scan bar codes, you’ll be able to use your smartphone camera of course. We’re also investigating the option of using a Bluetooth connected bar code scanning device connected to your phone for more accurate/faster scanning. That way you can just leave your phone in your pocket while you scan that stack of new laptops. Nice! That’s what I call “modern”.
Are you as excited as I am?
I’m sure some of the first questions you’ll have are “When is it going to be available?” and “Can we be beta testers?” We are targeting availability with our Cireson Total Management Suite 2014 Q2 release. We already have selected the beta customers we need for this phase of the project and are working closely with them on the development of this product to make sure we get it right. As we get closer to the release date, we will open up the beta to additional customers.
Please let us know if you have any questions or feedback!
Remember: just say no to Windows Mobile 6.5 and CSV data files for barcode scanning. You deserve a better solution than that.